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Facebook to add Shaq show and singing contest to video lineup

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Ex-Los Angeles Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal (above) is who the Facebook Watch video service hopes will keep viewers agog in this age of Netflix and YouTube.

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FACEBOOK Inc said on Wednesday that it would debut an interactive reality show starring basketball star Shaquille O'Neal who goes on a quest to open a restaurant, as the company looks to attract viewers to its Facebook Watch video service.

The eight-episode "Big Chicken Shaq" would launch in the coming weeks, the company said at a Television Critics Association event, where TV networks and streaming platforms promote upcoming shows.

Facebook Watch's moves are aimed at fighting for audiences with services that dominate online video like Netflix Inc and Alphabet Inc's YouTube.

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In the proposed series, O'Neal will seek advice from Facebook users as he prepares to open a restaurant in Las Vegas. The former National Basketball Association star will use Facebook Live to interact with fans, the company said in a statement.

Facebook Watch launched in the United States a year ago with original series, news programmes and user-created videos.

Other upcoming series include a singing competition in which Facebook users would nominate friends to compete; auditions and voting would take place on Facebook, the company said.

Both shows represent the type of interactive television Facebook is trying to create to engage users, said Ricky Van Veen, the company's head of global creative strategy.

He said some Facebook Watch shows were gaining traction, including "Tom vs Time," a series starring New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. REUTERS